Environment and Sustainability

The growing Environment and Sustainability list is at the heart of our remit to publish quality scholarship that addresses global social challenges.

This list covers a broad spectrum of issues and focuses on the social justice dimensions of environmental sustainability, including in: climate change; environmental politics; developing sustainable economies; transport and sustainability; and environmentalist thought and ideology.

The new Open Access Global Social Challenges Journal incorporates these themes to facilitate critical thinking across disciplines and fields.

Environment and Sustainability

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In spring 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, research projects funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) were subjected to budget cuts. The cuts were the result of UK government’s decision to reduce its Official Development Assistance (ODA), which had devastating effects for humanitarian, development and research work. This article draws on focus group discussions with project teams working on three large GCRF-funded projects to explore the effects of these cuts. The article documents how the cuts curtailed project aspirations and impact, had a negative toll on the mental health of researchers, and imperilled the trusting relationships upon which international research collaborations are built. The article argues that the cuts expose the shallow commitments to research ethics and equitable partnerships of powerful actors in the UK research ecosystem, including research councils and government. In ‘doing harm’ via these cuts, the article explores the failure of research governance structures and the continued coloniality underpinning the UK’s approach to researching ‘global challenges’.

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Following the 2008 global financial crisis, Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) have become a common feature of the urban landscape in cities throughout Europe. An emerging body of literature suggests that Fab Labs go beyond providing access to digital fabrication tools, and function as ‘third places’ as they enhance social connectedness. Drawing on a case study of a Fab Lab in the English city of Coventry, this article utilises the concept of ‘austerity urbanism’ to understand the changing nature of third places in England since the 2008 global financial crash. In doing so, we argue that a confluence of austerity urbanism and digital advancements has influenced both the emergence of new third places (such as Fab Labs) while simultaneously undermining long-established third places (such as libraries). As a result, vital aspects of social infrastructure are being shaped and reshaped in the contemporary era. The article reflects on what these changes mean for individual and community well-being.

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Education can be a powerful force for good, and diversity is an increasing reality for every society. To foster durable peace, international efforts supporting education must emphasize the benefits of pluralism and the importance of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). While domestic and international rights organizations regularly highlight human rights abuses, governments have often paid insufficient attention to the importance of systematically engaging the mentality that leads to violations in the first place. Promoting appreciation for pluralism and human rights is a long-term strategy to nurture peace and advance fundamental freedoms.

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Making economic growth more inclusive for faith communities represents a key pathway to ensuring better access to economic opportunities. Given that conflicts have impacted on religious communities disproportionately, this chapter describes the work of Community Peace Advocates CPAs in Nigeria. The chapter describes the work of CPAs in developing the skills and abilities of people drawn from the religious communities of the three states – Kaduna, Kano and Plateau – to cooperatively use market spaces, as well as share access to land and water resources, which have often been a basis for conflict between farmers and pastoralists. The CPAs work with religious and other social networks to dismantle the structures of religious inequality by applying collaborative problem-solving approaches to religiously-induced conflicts. The CPAs across Kaduna and Plateau states aim to strengthen the resilience of farmer and herder communities and to promote social cohesion.

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Freedom of religion and belief is crucial to any sustainable development process, yet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pay little attention to religious inequalities.

This book offers a comprehensive overview of how efforts to achieve SDGs can be enhanced by paying greater attention to freedom of religion and belief. In particular, it illustrates how poverty is often a direct result of religious prejudice and how religious identity can shape a person’s job prospects, their children’s education and the quality of public services they receive. Drawing on evidence from Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, the book foregrounds the lived experiences of marginalized communities as well as researchers and action organizations.

Open access

Freedom of religion and belief is crucial to any sustainable development process, yet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pay little attention to religious inequalities.

This book offers a comprehensive overview of how efforts to achieve SDGs can be enhanced by paying greater attention to freedom of religion and belief. In particular, it illustrates how poverty is often a direct result of religious prejudice and how religious identity can shape a person’s job prospects, their children’s education and the quality of public services they receive. Drawing on evidence from Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, the book foregrounds the lived experiences of marginalized communities as well as researchers and action organizations.

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Policies committed to sustainable development, both at the national and global levels, need to support cultural, syncretic and indigenous values and world-views (even around so-called ‘sacred sites and groves’). SDG13 and future policies on sustainable development also need to take into account the loss and damage that has been encountered by marginalized and vulnerable people, largely due to colonialist and extractivist policies on the part of rich and privileged actors and countries. Ultimately pushing for a decolonial and intersectional perspective on climate and sustainability can lead to a greater appreciation of multiple ontologies (including of religious minorities and indigenous peoples) and open up debates and pluriversality. These will not only validate and lift the perspectives of marginalized groups, but will also contribute to achieving climate justice and more sustainable and respectful human nature relations.

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Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, the seventeenth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG17), is arguably the glue for the other 16 goals, for without effective partnerships, it will not be possible to enable the global, regional and local efforts necessary to facilitate investment and implementation of sectoral work to meet the SDGs. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), formerly the Department for International Development (DFID), has recognized for many years the need for more representative, diverse partnerships and increased localization, which is particularly significant when working on issues of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). The UK Aid Connect programme, which was launched in 2018, was convened around the pillars of innovation and partnership, with the whole impetus of the funding intending to bring together a wide range of different organizations to work together effectively as consortia, understanding that no one organization has all the answers to address complex challenges such as FoRB. UK Aid Connect was also clear from the outset of the need to involve organizations from the countries where the proposed programmes of work were taking place, a crucial measure for legitimate, sustainable interventions.

Open access

This chapter makes the case why rendering visible the developmental inequities experienced by those who have been marginalized on account of their perceived religious affiliation or background, what they hold to be sacred is so crucial for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By rendering visible religious inequality as a dimension of exclusion, we hope not only to highlight that inclusive development remains elusive without the inclusion of the realities experienced by the religiously marginalized, but also, conversely, how the achievement of any development goals – be they the SDGs or a future, post-2030 framework – are enhanced when the resources and repertoires of those same individuals and groups are brought in.

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This chapter explores whether the extended quarantine and poor treatment of Hazara Shia women pilgrims returning home to Pakistan after travelling to Iran in 2020 was due to their identity as Hazaras, an ethnic religious minority which already experiences violence and discrimination in Pakistan. This chapter further explores how the intersection of gender and religious belief enhanced experiences of marginality for the Hazara Shia women, who were kept in poor conditions and with little access to information, essential care or supplies.

Open access